The Lions see their huge United Rugby Championship win over Zebre at Ellis Park on Saturday as a potential turning point for the team.
The Johannesburg side thrashed the Italians 61-19 to record their second win in six matches. Their four losses were, however, closely-fought encounters.
The Lions dominated the encounter against Zebre from start to finish. They ran in nine tries to three on a day where everything worked according to plan. Zebre had beaten the Sharks and Cardiff in their last two matches.
After four nail-biting losses, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen believes their emphatic win over Zebre is just what the doctor ordered.
“The irony is we felt that we played well in all five games—well, six now. Just small moments, small momentum swings at the wrong times, as you guys alluded to, fumbling once or twice in the 22. It’s been a tough week in terms of travel, coming back to 35 degrees and seeing a performance like that, obviously, makes you proud,” says van Rooyen.
The Lions have several promising, young players in their midst. Van Rooyen believes most of them have the potential to eventually don the green and gold.
Captain Marius Louw says the players welcome the competition within the squad.
“I think it’s very important for a team to have competitiveness within positions, and healthy competition and I think that’s something we have at the moment and that’s what drives performance. When it’s healthy, each and every guy that’s not playing can be in that position to play, so I think that pushes guys and pulls guys who aren’t playing,” says Louw
Now the Dragons, who are 15th on the log, await in round seven. The Welsh side suffered a 69-14 thrashing at the hands of the Sharks at the weekend.
But Van Rooyen says the Lions are taking nothing for granted.
“Tough team, in terms of, they just keep on fighting, good kicking game, good solid set piece, so the focus from our side is to keep on building, keep on working on the consistency from our side, whether it is execution or just pressure or mentally,” he adds.
The clash kicks off at five past five on Saturday afternoon.
— Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) November 25, 2023